Small businesses must act now to continue to trade with the EU

Many UK businesses are putting themselves at risk of not being able to continue trading in the EU if a no deal Brexit occurs. A few simple steps can ensure business can continue

Business owners need to prepare now to ensure their business can continue to trade with the EU if the UK leaves without a deal. The warning comes from HMRC which has proffered three steps for businesses to consider in order to do this:

  • Register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number;
  • Consider how they want to make customs declarations, and
  • Register for new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP).

Economic Operator and Registration Number (EORI) number

The first step businesses need to take is to register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number. UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number. In the event of a no deal exit, businesses will be unable to continue trading with the EU without an EORI number; however, HMRC figures show that so far just 17% of these businesses have registered.

Customs Declarations

After getting an EORI number, businesses need to take the second step and consider how they want to make customs declarations. Businesses can appoint a customs agent if they want someone else to do it. Most businesses with customs obligations choose to use a customs agent.

Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP)

For businesses that import goods into the UK from the EU using roll on roll off locations, they can take a third step and register for new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP). TSP will allow businesses to import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and postpone paying any import duties. For imports using other locations, and for exports, standard customs declarations will apply.

Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury said: “We want businesses to be able continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.

“We are specifically advising businesses to take some simple steps to be prepared – the first thing they need to do is register for an EORI number, it is free and takes less than 10 minutes.

“Step by step advice can be accessed via GOV.UK – the help is there, we just need business owners to take action.”

In September 2018, December 2018 and January 2019, HMRC wrote directly to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses that only trade with the EU advising them to start their preparations and apply for an EORI number. There are another estimated additional 95,000 non-VAT registered businesses that also need to take action. Despite these letters HMRC says only 40,973 have registered for an EORI number since October.

To help businesses make import and export declarations, HMRC made £8m funding available for traders and intermediaries to support them with training and IT costs, of which there is still £3m remaining. Apply here


Further reading: EORI number: What it is and how to get or check one


Related Topics

EU - European Union